Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Recently I have fallen into a menu funk. I have been making the same few things over and over again. One of those things, what I now refer to as my refrigerator concoction, is a meal I replicated after going to lunch at a local Mexican fast food place. I tried their chicken burrito served over lettuce. I left feeling like I ingested a gallon of salt. I wanted to find a way to replicate the meal at home while dramatically reducing the amount of salt.
It varies depending on what I have on hand but the basic meal is brown rice, chicken marinated in bbq sauce, corn, black beans and salsa. I’ll add chopped onions, cheese or top it with sour cream if I have some on hand.
It’s an incredibly tasty dish. I make sure to use corn and beans that do not have any salt added. It makes a big difference in the pucker effect I get when I eat food that has too much salt. My “refrigerator concoction” is also very easy to transport. All the ingredients go into one container. I have it for lunch in the office quite often.
This week I wanted to break up the monotony of my menu by incorporating quinoa into the mix. I have eaten quinoa (pronounced “KEEN-wah”) in the past but never prepared it at home. I had two bags of it staring out at me from my pantry waiting to be put to good use. My goal was to make something similar to my rice bowl. I came up with something even better.
I drained some yellow and red peppers…
Shredded some chicken…
Cooked up some red and white quinoa…
Added some cheese and voilà…
Fire Roasted Pepper & Feta Quinoa Salad
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 12 oz jar Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Yellow & Red Peppers, chopped
1 cup shredded chicken
2 oz Athenos Tomato & Basil Feta
Hot sauce to taste
I’m sure the recipe would taste great with any brand of peppers or cheese. I simply used what I had on hand. If you have not prepared quinoa before it is important to note whether the brand you purchased is prewashed. If it is not then you have to drain it before cooking it. I used Arrowhead Mills Organic White Quinoa. As noted on the package, rinsing is recommended to wash away any naturally occurring bitter tasting saponins which are soap-like substances that occur on the outside of the quinoa. The quinoa grains are incredibly small. I drained the quinoa into a cheese cloth over a strainer. I’m sure a sieve would be just as effective. The red quinoa is from Ancient Harvest. It came prewashed. I have to admit I will probably gravitate more towards the prewashed version because it makes the preparation so much easier.
Bring the quinoa and 2 cups of water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed (15-20 minutes). Drain the quinoa and then mix it with the peppers and shredded chicken. Top with feta cheese and season with hot sauce to taste.
I was thrilled with the results. The quinoa has a nutty flavor that is enhanced by the peppers and feta. The chicken added a nice texture to the salad. I incorporate chicken into a lot of my meals. I can’t let go of the idea that I don’t need to eat a “meat” for dinner. I’m working on it.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to trying different variations of this recipe.